CeaseFire curbs violence through intervention
In an effort to stop violence in poor, urban communities, CeaseFire is a public health initiative that helps to find employment for at-risk youth and patrols the streets to prevent crimes. The program, which is funded by both public and private sources, involves sending former gang members to mediate street conflicts to ensure that they don’t escalate.
Most of the program’s 50 trained members, known as “interrupters”, are employed through the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health.
The CeaseFire model to reduce and prevent violence has been replicated more than a dozen times in the US, as well as in two sites in Iraq.
Program has significantly reduced violence in Chicago
According to a report by NPR, almost 700 children were injured in gunfire in Chicago last year. CeaseFire aims to protect kids who are more likely to be affected by violence because they live in dangerous neighborhoods.
An independent, 3-year evaluation, funded by the US Department of Justice, indicated that the initiative has been successful. The interventions in rough communities were found to decrease shootings and killings.
CeaseFire was launched in 2000 in Chicago, and it was able to reduce shootings by 67% after its first year. The organization claims that in 2010, the interrupters were responsible for diffusing 498 conflicts.
CeaseFire has office in neighborhood where video of violence there brought Chicago notoriety
Chicago gained national attention when an amateur video of a teenager’s death following a beating went viral online. The student went to Fenger High School, in Roseland neighborhood, where CeaseFire has an office.
Tio Hardiman, CeaseFire’s director of mediation services at the Roseland office, recognized that the workers’ efforts were sometimes the last line of defense for the dangerous south side of Chicago area.
“They were able to get [violence] down when nobody else could,” Hardiman said.